Proposed school transport changes to faith schools

Parents could end up paying more for buses.
Parents could end up paying more for buses.

Affected parents and carers are being urged to complete a consultation on proposed changes to denominational home to school transport.

Lancashire County Council currently spends over £5 million on providing mainstream home to school transport. And, of this amount, over £400,000 is spent on subsidising transport for pupils who attend their nearest faith school, but live closer to an available non-faith school.

The council has no legal duty to provide a subsidy for this type of transport and is proposing to phase it out from September 1st, 2018.

Parents currently have to make a contribution of £540 per child towards the cost, rising to £575 in September 2017.

County Coun. Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: “The council faces a challenging financial situation which means that we need to consult on a number of extremely difficult decisions on how we allocate our resources.”

The council is consulting on the removal of denominational transport assistance on a phased basis from September 2018. If a policy change is agreed it will only apply to new pupils in the Reception Year and Year 7.

Children who start school under one set of transport arrangements will continue to benefit from them until they conclude their education at that school or choose to move to another school.

Pupils from low income families who attend their nearest school on the grounds of parental faith and meet the distance criteria will continue by law to receive transport support.

The council will continue to provide free home to school transport, which is its legal duty, in the following cases:

• For children aged between four and 16 years attending their nearest school and where the suitable walking route from home to school is over two miles for children under eight years old and over three miles for children aged eight years and above.

• For children with a special educational need, a disability or a mobility difficulty, either long term or temporary, which means they cannot be expected to walk, accompanied as necessary, to the nearest appropriate school, even if this is within the statutory walking distance.

• For children from low-income families who are: between the ages of eight and 11 where the nearest school is over two miles from their home; between the ages of 11 and 16 where any one of the three nearest schools is between two and six miles from their home; and between the ages of 11 and 16 where the nearest school preferred on the parental religion or belief is between two and 15 miles from home. Low-income families are those pupils whose parents are in receipt of the maximum amount of working tax credit or the pupils are eligible for free school meals.

Affected parents and carers can make their views known by visiting: www.snapsurveys.com/wh/s.asp?k=149693816566 or writing to: Pupil Access Team, CCP First Floor, County Hall, Preston PR1 8XJ until Friday, July 21st.